June 28, 2016 – Loi Kroh Stadium, Chiang Mai
This was the 3rd fight in 4 days, the previous two had been KO victories for me, so I felt tired, sore and pretty good. The afternoon before this fight I’d gone up to the Phettonpung gym in Mae Rim (all-female gym) to clinch with two of their fighters. It turned out that my opponent for tonight had once been a fighter at their gym and Khun Yai, the head of the gym, told me she was about 60 kg. I’d be surprised, except that this promoter at this stadium had done that to me before and it was one of the reasons I ultimately left Chiang Mai for Pattaya. But I didn’t feel upset about it this time. I just laughed and thought, “well, we’ll see.”
She was, indeed, probably close to 60 kg. At my 61st fight I’d been surprised by this same promoter with a 60 kg opponent and it was horrible. I wasn’t hurt, it wasn’t the worst fight ever, but it illustrated to me a lot of truths about my relationship with my gym that I hadn’t really acknowledged before. I wrote a blog post about the concept of duu-lae, or “taking care” and how the lack of this is ultimately what catalyzed my decision to leave Lanna, which at the time combined with the prospect of being able to train in clinch is a much more rigorous way with boys my size down in Pattaya. What’s interesting in looking at that fight and this one is that nothing is different, and everything is. Now I’m a rogue fighter who goes off and books my own fights, gets myself to them and doesn’t even have a corner upon arrival most of the time. My pain with Lanna was that I was not this fighter yet, the fighter I am today – all my fights were then booked for me, I went with my gym and expected them to look out for me, and really the disappointment of that experience with Phet Nam Ngaam was the realization that the important relationship was more between my trainer and the promoter, not my trainer and me – my trainer must have believed in my toughness even to put me in that position, but that didn’t feel like that was what it was about. And at the time that was something that hurt me and something I would no longer tolerate. It would still hurt me now, I think. But these things really do happen in Muay Thai, there are many relationships beyond the ones we see as westerners. And I’ve grown in a different direction and now my trainer at my new gym takes care of me apart from my fighting; they’re separate. So, now the relationship is between me and the promoter, not my trainer and the promoter. It’s an odd, and wonderful, development. And, of course, I’m a better fighter now. And I still have a very good relationship to Lanna which is kind of my Northern home. They look out for me and corner for me in the Chiang Mai area – though this is a fight I booked.
So I stepped into the ring with this 60 kg fighter and felt like I could handle myself, rather than feeling thrown to the wolves a little. I was already sore from the previous two fights, which I would be if I were sitting on my ass at home anyway so I’d rather be fighting. I decided that staying close was the best option for avoiding further damage and it was pretty exhausting trying to move her around in the clinch, but the more patient I was with myself – not being frustrated by not being able to move her right away – the more ground I gained. So I just kept going. She went for broke in the later rounds and tried to cut me with some seriously ill-intentioned elbows, but I wasn’t intimidated. I just wrenched her neck harder in response. In the end I won on points and was proud of myself for overwriting the experience I’d had the last time this promoter had pulled this on me. I wasn’t ready for it then, but it happened anyway. I’ve made myself ready for it in the meantime, and I was happy with it this time.